What’s New in EMS Uniforms

EMS uniform manufacturers have recently addressed some important problems with EMS apparel. The first is the fundamental style of most EMS uniforms. Most are really just police uniforms; evolutions of military designs, sometimes with only a change in fabric color from what local law enforcement officers wear. Most EMS uniform shirts have scalloped pockets, button down square epaulets, permanent creases, and all the other design features of police wear. The drug-crazed patient does not care you wear light blue while the police in your community wear dark blue. He reacts to the visual styling cues and will often mistake you for a cop in the first few seconds. In many parts of the world this is no big deal, but in any modern American big city it can get you killed.  The second problem is that we work in a very physically demanding profession. We often compound heat stress by wearing older style polyester fabrics. We really need comfortable garments that give us complete freedom of movement to efficiently do our very physical type of work. We are also in dirty outside work environments, and are frequently exposed to different sources of fabric stains. We really need uniforms that both repel fluids and wick perspiration away.

We still frequently wear dark colors that cannot be easily seen at night. We have the new Federally Mandated ANSI compliance deadline driving the purchase of safety vests and coats. But the big unanswered question is will EMS staff wear the new safety vests? Perhaps if we had great looking hi-viz shirts and coats, no matter the season or circumstance we would be safer. The challenge will be to create professional, functional, and great looking hi-viz uniforms for EMS providers.  There have been many new developments in fabric manufacturing and fabric coating technology, which can provide our industry valuable new benefits. Most of these features were first seen on golfing apparel and other high performance outdoor sports apparel.

Polyester uniforms were always hot and sweaty, iron-wearing permanent press sauna suits. Not these new polyester fabrics. The new generation synthetics often have wicking properties and are now much more breathable. Spiewak recently introduced their leading edge SPDU, Spiewak Performance Duty Uniforms. These advanced technology uniforms have over 30 advanced features. They are manufactured from new performance polyester material, which has amazing mechanical stretch properties. It also features a nanotechnology fiber coating, which makes these uniforms incredibly fluid resistant.

Atlanco recently introduced a new 24-7 line of performance uniforms with the Tru-Spec brand label. They’re new 24-7 Series brand 60% cotton, 40% performance polyester polo shirt is breathable and wicks moisture away. It also has an anti-microbial treatment for odor control. These new performance polyester fabrics have amazing comfort compared to fabrics of the past. The material has an incredibly rich, natural feel. Washed on the hot cycle it still fits exactly the same as new.

Another good example is the Perfection Uniforms Eclipse Series performance polyester polo shirt. This shirt also introduces a whole new uniform look. The styling details do not share one design line with police apparel. It features epaulets more like a racecar drivers suits than a police shirt. The pockets, penholder, microphone clip and all the styling details subtly create an official professional uniform appearance that is markedly different than a police officer. The performance synthetic fabric of the Eclipse Polo is remarkably breathable. Russell Mills specially developed this innovation pique weave performance-poly material for sports apparel. Like other modern fabrics of this type, the shirt is much more comfortable and wicks perspiration away from your skin so it can more easily evaporate to keep you cool.

These new high performance fabrics promise to keep us cleaner, drier, and much more comfortable while doing a difficult and physically demanding job. Some like the style of the new Perfection Eclipse even hold the promise of helping to make us safer. These are some of the features and garment technologies that are likely to drive EMS market demand in the very near future.

For more on what’s new in EMS apparel, check out the latest EMS1.com article on the subject. There is more valuable information on Uniforms Magazine, and the Fashion Incubator.



About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for EMS1.com, on AmbulanceWorld.com and Multibriefs.com. I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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